The Strategic Importance of Brand Parity in Venue Management

 

Brand parity is an important component to marketing strategy. At its core, brand parity is aligning your product with the anticipated demands of the consumer by making sure you have the same attributes as rivals in your market. In his paper “Measuring Perceived Brand Parity.” James A. Muncy, from Valdosta State University, defines it as, “the overall perception held by the consumer that the differences between the major brand alternatives in a product category are small.” That statement is important from a marketing perspective because it reminds us that strategically aligning your offerings with what is expected in the marketplace can mitigate potential competitive advantages of your rivals. In venue management, this can be witnessed quite well in heavy “club” markets such as Vegas, Sao Paulo, Montreal, and Berlin where consumers have come to expect items such as VIP/ bottle service, security, scantily clad cocktail servers, top-of-the-line sound systems, impressive light shows and marquee DJs on deck. Club owners are happy to oblige because they know to compete they must “keep up with the Joneses,” or as marketers state – establish brand parity.

 

This brings us to the other side of brand parity strategy in venue management – if your pockets are deep enough. You can use it to oust competition by creating barriers to entry. This can be witnessed in Las Vegas where resident DJ’s (look at the list below from electronic.vegas) cost tens of thousands of dollars in performance fees alone with many easily cresting the $100,000 mark.

 

3LAU – Omnia Nightclub
A-Trak – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Above & Beyond – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Adrian Lux – Encore Beach Club
Alison Wonderland – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Alesso – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Afrojack
 – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Armin van Buuren – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Arty – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
Audien – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Axwell – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Baauer – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Benny Benassi – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Bingo Players – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
Borgeous – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Borgore – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub, Tao
Brillz – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
BRKLYN – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Burns – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Calvin Harris – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Carnage – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Cash Cash – Hakkasan, Omnia, Wet Republic
Cedric Gervais – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Chuckie – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Clockwork – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Dada Life – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
Danny Avila – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
Dash Berlin – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
David Guetta – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Deadmau5 – XS, Encore Beach Club
Deniz Koyu – Encore Beach Club, Surrender
Deorro – Encore Beach Club
Dillon Francis – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
 – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Diplo – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
DJ Irie – Light, Daylight
DJ Mustard – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
DJ Shift – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
DJ Snake – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Duke Dumont – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Dyro – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Dzeko & Torres – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
EC Twins – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
EDX – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Eric Prydz – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
Eva Shaw – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
FAED – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Fedde Le Grand – Encore Beach Club, XS
Ferry Corsten – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Fergie (DJ) – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Flosstradamus – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
French Montana – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Galantis – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Gareth Emery – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Getter – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Ghastly – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
gLAdiator – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
Grandtheft – Surrender
GTA – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Hardwell – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Heroes x Villains – XS
Hook N Sling – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Illenium – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Ingrosso – Light Nightclub, Daylight Beach Club
Irie – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Jauz – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Julian Jordan – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Kaskade – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Kennedy Jones – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Krewella
 – Omnia
LA Leakers – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Laidback Luke – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Lil Jon – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Lost Kings – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Markus Schulz – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Martin Solveig – Surrender
Madeon – Encore Beach Club
Major Lazer – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
MAKJ – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Marshmello – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Martin Garrix – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Matoma – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Morgan Page – Surrender, Encore Beach Club
Nervo – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
NGHTMRE – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Nicky Romero – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Ookay – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Paper Diamond – Surrender
Party Favor – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Paul Oakenfold – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Porter Robinson
 – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Puff Daddy – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Quintino – Drai’s Nightclub, Drai’s Beach Club
Robin Schulz – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
RL Grime – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Ruckus – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Sander van Doorn – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Skrillex – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Slander – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Stafford Brothers – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Steve Angello – XS, Encore Beach Club
Steve Aoki – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Sultan & Ned Shepard – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano – Hakkasan, Wet Republic
The Chainsmokers – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Tiesto – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Timmy Trumpet – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Travis Scott – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Tritonal – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Tommy Trash – XS, Encore Beach Club
Ty Dolla $ign – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Vice – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Vinai – Marquee Nightclub, Marquee Dayclub
Virgil Abloh – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
WeAreTreo – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic
Wolfgang Gartner
 – XS
Yellow Claw – XS, Surrender, Intrigue, Encore Beach Club
Zedd – Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic

 

This impressive list demonstrates that if one wanted to start a club on the strip in Las Vegas, they would be extremely hard-pressed to do so as the environment demanded by consumers in this area would force them to meet the venue design, ambiance, and reportedly $1 million Calvin Harris makes each night at Hakkasan. Quite simply, they would need to adopt the brand parity of a market put in place by conglomerates backed by casino money. And if they choose not to, they would be lost in the advertising noise of a collective market working against them.

 

Obviously, other attributes come into play when launching a venue. You could position yourself in a tighter niche in the EDM world such as trance. You could reduce costs and charge consumers less than the $30-$50 charged by the major-branded clubs. You could even move off of the strip and cater to the locals. However, that is not the point of this post. The lesson here is. When planning, launching and running an entertainment venue, one must forego the blanket advice of many armchair marketers to simply differentiate the brand. Rather, you need to pinpoint what attributes you should (and can afford to) fall in line with to meet the customer expectations your competition has put in place. Only then, should you look for ways to differentiate.

 

 

 

It’s Still About Opportunities to See

Gone are the days of malls, mom and pop stores, and various other brick and mortar outlets. They have been replaced by online merchants, specialty “long-tail sites like Etsy,” demand channels such as eBay, and social sales through Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram among others.

 

When the distribution point of your product changes, it is imperative that your marketing strategies change with it. Why? New distribution points suggest you are dealing with consumers who have adopted new purchasing behaviors or, perhaps even more challenging. You need to re-train existing customers on these new digital protocols without losing their business. A great example lies in the fact that online buyers can’t physically touch the merchandise before they buy it. For some, who have grown up in the “online” world. This isn’t an issue. However, for department stores such as JCPenney’s and Macy’s with a funnel full of brick and mortar customers used to handling the merchandise. This is a problem that must be addressed.

 

The savvy marketers at Zappos quickly found the solution to this problem with their free returns and exchanges policies. Today, major retailers (including the aforementioned) have followed suit and now offer free returns. Some go so far as to streamline the process by providing return labels inside their packages and expedited reimbursement paths through the customer’s account section of their site. While John Q buyer still can’t touch the product before he makes his purchase, these policies reduce the perceived risk of their pre-purchase rituals and help close the gap between the brick and mortar and online worlds.

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the changes the new “online” marketing landscape has forced on firms large and small. Customer reviews have become imperative for a company’s success as well as PCI compliant websites, PayPal payment channels, mobile-friendly landing pages, and social listening and engagement by the brand.

 

However, one core marketing element remains unchanged.

 

Opportunities to See still dominates the marketer’s playbook. Ultimately, the adperson’s primary goal still boils down to getting the brand name in front of as many relevant consumers as possible, so you can get them into the sales funnel where they will start the buying process.

 

I will argue that it is even more important now than ever.

 

In the past world of brick and mortar selling, competition was somewhat limited by physical location. E.g. you had to have a store or place for your customers to go to compete. Today,  many barriers to entry like this have been torn down like the Berlin Wall. It no longer matters where you are located or how much intellectual and financial capital you have. If you have the will and an internet connection. You can compete. Last year, popular online commerce platform Shopify announced the company supported over 375,000 merchants alone by the end of 2016.  That’s just one “out of the box” provider that caters to the “limited entrepreneur.” Add in other services such as Volusion, Magento, Bigcommerce, Wix, WordPress, and proprietary sites and it is very likely your business (no matter how niche it may be) is competing with a plethora of other brands across the web for the same customer’s attention. However, it get’s even more difficult. Since it takes the average online patron numerous views across multiple channels before they click “buy now.” Getting your message in front of those customers as many times as possible becomes a key ingredient to your success.

 

Yes, the distribution channel has changed and, yes, marketing strategies have changed with it. However, don’t let modern agencies scare you with new terms such as bounce rate, page views, click-through rate (CTR), cost per thousand (CPM). It all boils down to one basic fundamental that hasn’t changed in marketing strategy.

 

Opportunities to See.

 

 

 

The Simpsons-Curating Strategy Genius of FX

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

If you have cable, you can use the FXNow App and watch every single Simpsons episode right now.

 

What could be better?

 

There is a “random” button you can hit.

 

This is the future!

*****

No, I am serious about this. FX is doing something unique with TV. They are altering the viewing behavior. So, while other services invest billions in product procurement. FX is using a different strategy. They have licensed a well known and powerful brand with 618 episodes over 28 seasons.

 

That is a LOT of content.

 

There is a HUGE chance that, unless you are the most adamant Simpsons fan, you have missed a few episodes…maybe even a few seasons.  The result – hit that random button. If that wasn’t enough, they have numerous Playlists including every Treehouse of Horror, Classic Ralph Moments, Valentine and Christmas episodes among others.

 

Sure, this takes a lot of curating and back-end work to support. However, and I am not offering ANY proof. These costs must be less than developing just one new season of Game of Thrones.  And they are only doing eight of those.

 

Kudos FX Networks for using a curating strategy to sneak in a competitive edge in a very tough market. Kudos.

 

 

Underpromise….Overdeliver.

Forecasting a prospective market can be quite tough. Especially if you are a small business that lacks the resources to acquire and use costly third-party database results and analytical software. In some niche markets, data can be even harder to uncover even with these resources at your disposal.  For instance, I focus on the drum industry and even though there are a “crap ton of drummer’s out there” –words from an SEO consultant I worked with. It is tough to get empirical evidence on their behaviors. Luckily, I had developed my own forecasting model in grad school and was able to use that when working on my business plan for Spirit and Groove™.

My model follows a four-step process that creates a funnel from a 100% total market through a potential audience to the final stage of prospective buyers. The last step is a calculation I call the “gut metric” that allows me to adjust the data based on a “gut” feeling. Some would argue the use of this step, but I disagree for two reasons.

Number one, data is both qualitative and quantitative. Analytical software rarely includes the qualitative metrics. Algorithms are great, but there is a reason even Google and Facebook continue to seek out ways to model the “human” perspective. Number two, having run my own company, worked for firms of all sizes, and studied the business plans of countless publicly traded brands during my MBA studies, I have a refined understanding of what is actually possible when you have that empirical evidence in your hands and I am able to sift out marketing “pipe-dreams” from that data.

Perhaps the most important, my model aligns with the concept of “underpromise…overdeliver” – a theory I learned with one of the world’s top brands.

While working as a retail specialist and store mentor with Apple, I witnessed firsthand just how powerful this corporate mantra can be. Apple doesn’t simply include it in their employee manual and call it good. No, they drill it into the corporate-wide psyche. As a retail specialist, it is a concept you learn in your initial training before you are introduced to any of their coveted i-products. At Apple, you are taught to always tell the customer their iPhone would be fixed in 30 minutes, even if you are sure it will only take 10. This way, you are able to increase the consumer’s buy-in when you do deliver ahead of schedule, and that is just the tip of their underpromise…overdeliver iceberg.

If you follow the tech giant in the news, especially when earning’s statements come out. You will notice that (somehow) Job’s brainchild regularly outperforms their own corporate estimates. There is no doubt in my mind that part of this phenom lies in a brand-wide “underpromise/overdeliver” mentality.

Business owners and managers often “over-assume” their results will beat expectations. Managers see the glass as half full because their bonuses and growth-potential are directly related to those results. Owners usually adopt the same ideal, but for different reasons. They are emotionally attached to the brand, see things others may not have in their field of vision, and have much more on the line, which forces them to hope for better-than-expected results.

Neither of these are good ways to engage in business. Yes, overhyping serves a purpose in specific sections of the marketing mix. However, overhyping your forecasts with owners can be detrimental. Imagine what an investor would think if you told them you would hit 1,000,000 units sold in the first quarter of 2018, but you only hit half. Now imagine, that happens every quarter. Soon you will lose their confidence…then their support.  Now instead, flip the coin. You forecast that you plan to sell 500,000 units in the first quarter of 2018 and you end up selling just over 10% of those figures. To you, it may look like slight gains (maybe even losses, because through your rose colored glasses you were hoping for one-million). However, to that investor you now over-performed. If you continued this method for future quarters and witnessed similar results. Your investor’s confidence would grow exponentially and with that, your opportunity for explosive future growth would be solidified via their willingness to spend more on your ideas.

Remember, the underpromise/overdeliver concept is rooted in marketing and not finance. It is not designed to “cook the books” or to “sell a lemon.” Rather, it is a mantra that your entire team should adopt, so that it will become part of your overall corporate culture and brand. When properly instituted it impacts both sides of the ball. Your customers will constantly be “surprised” by your service while your investors will continue to experience a responsible and growing company worthy of continued investment.

 

 

Communicate Right or Get Lost in the Shuffle

 

I get a lot of emails every day. I mean – a FREEKIN’ LOT! However, my inbox doesn’t compare with some of the people I work with. Case in point, I was having lunch with a colleague for a major cruise brand and during our hour together, he received 35 emails, a bunch of texts, and a few calls.

 

It may be difficult to understand just how complex email management can become if you have never worked in an environment based on group decisions with partners in multiple time zones that require written communication to audit deals being made. This is exactly the case for booking agents, concert buyers, and entertainment managers. In our business, the cc (and sometimes bcc) are commonplace, which quickly converts one email into double digit chains plaguing our inboxes.

 

Of course, there are programs and protocols one can follow to better manage their inbox. However, each of these emails (or at the very least the subject) needs to be read and, if warranted, investigated and responded to.

 

So, why is this entertainment blogger discussing the woes of our email management. Well, the answer is to help artists looking for work to better communicate with us, so you don’t get lost in the shuffle.  Here are a few pieces of advice I want to give.

 

  1. Keep it simple.  Remember grade school and how they taught you to outline your paragraph in the first line by dictating the who, what, where, when, and why? Follow that rule. Don’t bury the story.  Provide us with your website and video links upfront along with what you are looking for and what your act brings to the table.  We don’t need to hear your life story. How you learned to play the guitar at six. How you met John Mayer that one time and he dug your tune. Let us know what you are going to do for us.
  2. Keep it to email if possible. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels are great, but they are not the best place to solicit a new client.  For one, if the company is huge like a cruise line. The person reading those messages probably has nothing to do with entertainment, so you are relying on them to forward your message to the right person. If the company is smaller, the person handling those messages is probably wearing 100 different hats and will likely look at your message and forget about it until they are managing the site again in the future. When you send an email, it at least ends up in the correct inbox…barring spam filter interference.
  3. Better than email… the website form. If the agency or venue has a form “specific for entertainment applicants” use that. They did this for a reason. For instance, the company I work for, Mike Moloney Entertainment, put a web application form that forwards all applicants to the email accounts of five agents.  I know for a fact that many larger cruise companies have their online forms set-up in a similar fashion.  In all instances, the forms are designed to capture the data we need to make a decision and (hopefully) a deal. Do yourself a favor and follow our lead.
  4. Don’t spam!
  5. Don’t spam! See what I did there?  This one is so important, I put it in twice.  NOBODY likes spam, so don’t be that person. Now, there are many ways you can spam a prospect through email. Sending the same message to every email address you can find within the intended agency. Including them on your mailing list without asking. Emailing them every day. Emailing, then messaging on all available social channels are all ways you become a spammer and it generally doesn’t work in your favor.
  6. Do some research on who you are emailing. Does the booking agent work in your genre of music? Are you applying to a cruise agency, but you get sea-sick? Is the booker outside of your drawing ability? It doesn’t hurt to do a little research to focus your pitch, and with so much information at your fingertips it is rather easy to be properly prepared.

As an agent, I can attest that most of us are always hungry to find the next great act for our venues. However, that is only a small percentage of our business. The largest chunk of our time is spent putting the deal together and then executing it on show day. A lot of artists feel that the “squeaky wheel will get the grease” and in some instances that is true.  However, if the driver can’t hear that squeak. Nobody will be getting to their destination. Follow these steps to increase the probability that we will hear you.